1 Corinthians 14:34-35 silent churches

Surprisingly for me, some Christians are still using 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 to silence intelligent, godly women in church meetings.

Someone left a comment yesterday in response to my article “Did Priscilla teach Apollos?” and quoted 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 in full, implying that Priscilla couldn’t have taught Apollos because Paul did not allow women to speak in church.

Here is part of my reply.

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is not about prohibiting women from teaching. It is about silencing the uneducated women in Corinth who were asking nuisance questions during church meetings. Paul advises these women to ask their questions to their typically more-educated husbands at home.

Chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians is all about maintaining order and decorum in church gatherings and silencing the disorderly talk from some tongues-speakers, prophets, and women. The same imperative Greek verb for “be silent” is used for each of these three groups of people.

~ A tongues-speaker is to be silent (sigaō) and stop speaking in tongues if there is no one to interpret (1 Cor. 14:28 ESV).
~ A prophet is to be silent (sigaō) and stop prophesying if someone else receives a revelation (1 Cor. 14:30).
~ Women are to be silent (sigaō) and stop asking questions if there is anything they want to learn; they should keep their questions for home (1 Cor. 14:34-35).

All these people need to hold their tongues and stop speaking in these situations. But 1 Corinthians 14 is not about silencing tongues-speakers, prophets, or women altogether (1 Cor. 14:39-40 NIV).

In 1 Corinthians chapter 11, Paul acknowledges that Corinthian women prayed and prophesied aloud in church gatherings, and he doesn’t silence them (1 Cor. 11:5). Furthermore, in chapters 12 and 14 of 1 Corinthians, Paul mentions several ministries, some of which are vocal, without saying that they are only for men (e.g., 1 Cor. 12:7-11, 28; 14:26 NIV).

This is my view of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 in a nutshell.  I look at several other views in a longer article entitled Interpretations and Applications of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35  here.

Image credit: © Nadya Lukic (iStockphoto)

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